In the world of top-level executive compensation, one thing you definitely don’t want to do is be fired “with cause.” For example if Don Lemon and Tucker Carlson end up being fired “with cause” by their former employers, they will not be paid a dime of the tens of millions they are both owed on their respective contracts. And then there’s recently-fired NBCUniversal Chief Executive Jeff Shell. Jeff was terminated last week following a company investigation into an inappropriate relationship with an NBCUniversal employee. That’s the textbook definition of being fired “with cause” and as a result, it’s gonna cost him $43.3 million.
The disclosure that Shell’s stock options and grants have been forfeited and canceled came from NBCUniversal parent company Comcast, which received a complaint from CNBC International anchor Hadley Gamble accusing Shell of sexual harassment and sexual discrimination against her.
Shell released an apologetic press statement on his exit from the company:
“I had an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company, which I deeply regret. I’m truly sorry I let my Comcast and NBCUniversal colleagues down, they are the most talented people in the business and the opportunity to work with them the last 19 years has been a privilege.”
Comcast hasn’t commented publicly on the firing outside of a filing with the SEC, which was reported on by CNN. It reads in part:
“Following a complaint that Jeffrey Shell, CEO of NBCUniversal, engaged in inappropriate conduct with a female employee, including allegations of sexual harassment, Comcast Corporation retained outside counsel to investigate the allegations. During the investigation, evidence was uncovered that corroborated the allegations. As a consequence, on April 23, 2023, the company terminated Mr. Shell’s employment with cause under his employment agreement, effective immediately.”
Having been fired with cause, Shell won’t be getting any severance or any “supplemental benefits” that might have been provided for in his contract, but he isn’t going home completely empty handed either. He’ll receive the balance of his unpaid base salary, plus his unused vacation time and vested employee benefits, plus any reimbursements he’s owed for business expenses. Last year, his total compensation came to a reported $21 million.